Thursday, October 16, 2014

Home sales numbers stay steady for Bonneville County

It has been a few months, so I thought it might be a good time to check the pulse of real estate in Bonneville County. Other than putting your own house on the market, the best (and less stressful) way to do this is to check the Snake River Regional Multiple Listing Service, which keeps track of home sales, average days on market, median price and homes listed.

Going whole hog, I went down the columns all the way back to 2004, which, as one might surmise by looking at the table above, was the year before the boom started.

As good as the numbers look — this year is holding steady with 2013 — we’ve still got a bit of a climb before we get back to the go-go times of 2005, 2006 and 2007. And it may never happen. As immune as we think we are to national trends we are not, and there’s sobering news out there.

The monthly bulletin from Local Market Monitor paints a fairly sobering picture concerning debt and employment. Here is what it said:

Quite aside from the $10 trillion home owners owe on their mortgages — an amount that doubled in the last 20 years — they owe more than $3 trillion in consumer debt, $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the US. This used to be mainly credit cards and car loans, but over half of it is now concentrated in two groups that are very important to real estate. Home owners owe $450 billion in home equity loans, and young adults owe $1.2 trillion in student loans (whew!). Is it any wonder that so many home owners and would-be new ones have to sit on the real estate side lines?

With many buyers unable to buy, it's pretty clear why home prices are below income levels in most local markets today and why new construction has added so little to the economy. What's worrisome is that this situation, especially for young adults, isn't going to change much in the near future.

In September, the number of jobs was 2.0 percent higher than a year ago — a sign of slow, continuing improvement. Jobs were up 4 percent in construction, 1.3 percent in manufacturing, 1.8 percent in retail, 3.8 percent in business services, 2 percent in healthcare, and 2.8 percent at restaurants.

Government jobs were flat, not only at the federal and state level, where political considerations weigh most heavily, but also at the local level, where spending on education is necessary for long-term economic growth.